There's too much going on today for a mailblog, so I'll get to it Wednesday morning. Here are a few Big Ten notes from a pretty busy news day.
It's amazing to think a running back who suffered a second ACL injury to his right knee could be ready for the 2010 season, but Ralph Bolden might defy the odds. Purdue head coach Danny Hope said today that Bolden will be re-evaluated and likely will have surgery in the coming weeks. Hope also said he has had players recover from ACL injuries in the spring to be ready for the fall. So stay turned.
Not surprisingly, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez didn't address the NCAA's examination of West Virginia's program under his watch during his news conference this afternoon. Michigan hasn't been commenting on any NCAA investigation issues this spring, and a team official cut off a question asked to Rodriguez about the West Virginia situation.
Michigan State has reinstated wide receiver Fred Smith, who recently served four days in jail for his role in the November residence hall assault. Head coach Mark Dantonio said Smith is back practicing with the team. Nose tackle Oren Wilson won't be returning, as Dantonio said the junior is exploring transfer options. Wilson's lawyer told reporters last month that his client wanted to return to Michigan State and hoped to talk with Dantonio, but the door has been closed there. This is the right call by Michigan State, as Wilson, sentenced to 21 days in jail for his role in the assault, didn't come forward about his involvement and participated in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2.
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno spent most of his time talking about expansion today, but I did sneak in a question about the team's progress this spring. Needless to say, Paterno isn't happy. "We’re not a very good football team right now," he said. "The quarterbacks are very average, but they’re young, and hopefully over a period of time they’ll get better. We’re just very, very average right now. We’re not tough. Our kicking game is terrible." Is it just a bunch of young players or older guys not making progress? "It’s a combination," Paterno said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us. That doesn’t mean we can’t get it done, but we have to be realistic and stop dreaming that the good Lord is going to come down and bless us. We’ve got to go to work." You've got to love Paterno's honesty.
Rodriguez continues to challenge quarterback Tate Forcier, both on the practice field and, in a way, with his comments to the media. "Tate started off really well last year, he had some ups and downs and he needed to get better," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "Competition is helping in that regard. Tate knows he can’t be average and expect to be the starting quarterback." The good news? Rodriguez said all three quarterbacks -- Forcier, Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner -- had their best performances in Saturday's scrimmage.
Dantonio said the 3-4 defense will be a larger part of the plan this fall, though the team is still "experimenting" right now. The alignment should allow Michigan State to be more flexible with star Greg Jones and maximize the depth at the linebacker position.
It sounds more and more like Adam Weber is taking control of Minnesota's quarterback competition. Head coach Tim Brewster said Weber has had his best spring and "understood the urgency of a fifth-year senior." Things are a little closer at Illinois, where all three candidates have had the upper hand at times, coach Ron Zook said. The team's eventual starter will be the player who best learns from his mistakes.